LinkedIn released an update for their mobile apps today that is, in a word, gorgeous. The entire app has been rebuilt and revamped to the point that, I’m suprised we didn’t have to delete the old app and download an entirely new one. According to the LinkedIn Blog, the update is designed to “make it easier for our members to quickly discover and engage with the rich professional insights being shared across LinkedIn to help them make smarter decisions from wherever they may be working. We’ve designed the new LinkedIn mobile phone app for every professional, with a richer and more engaging stream and more personalization features.”
First, LinkedIn continues to bring news stories and updates to the forefront. The top of the new Home screen includes a button to tap to access stories that LinkedIn thinks you will be interested in. Below that button, are recent updates from your connections so you can see what your professional colleagues, clients or prospects are talking about.
If you tap on the Top Stories For You, you will see recommended stories and easy access access to Like or Comment on any particular story. In the upper right hand corner, you can tap to access category settings, and truly personalize your LinkedIn mobile experience by picking and choosing exactly what kinds of News stories appear to you. Recommended categories are at the top, and if you scroll down you can see categories you’re already following.
Reading specific stories is a delightful experience. Tapping the story will open it in a separate screen of course, with an effort to format the story for mobile. If the story includes too many images or odd formating, there’s a book icon at the top that will convert the story into a reader format. You can easily Like or Comment at any time using the stationary bottom bar, as well as choose to share the story. Sharing options remain unchanged, as you can share the story to your own LinkedIn profile, include a Tweet, or choose to share with specific connections. Facebook and Google+ sharing still are not supported, but you can choose to open the story in a mobile browser and then share from there.
Going back to the Home screen, the LinkedIn icon in the upper left now indicates new mail or notifications, and provides access to a brand new left menu that slides out, continuing a trend in mobile design. The new menu provides a lot of interesting information and easy access, and is customizable. You can also access the menu from anywhere by swiping to the right.
Your mailbox and notification center are right at the top. Tapping on the flag will show you recent notifications, and you can tap one to access that update or profile just as before, or tap the Notifications title bar at the top of that screen to clear your notifications. Mailbox functionality appears largely the same, but does continue the app’s overall change in appearance.
Below the mailbox and notifications is a constantly updated slideshow of your Home news stories, with access to your personal profile below that. The menu continues with access to your Groups, News, People You May Know, Jobs and Calendar.
At the bottom of the menu is an option to “Add shortcut”, which lets you add additional shortcuts to Companies, Groups and more. To change what’s already listed in your menu, simply tap and hold on any menu item and after a couple seconds, each menu item will have an X icon to the right to be easily removed.
The app will automatically attempt to add items to your menu which it thinks you might appreciate due to past activity, and you can choose to leave those items or remove them. There does not yet appear to be a way to manually add a specific connection, company or group to the menu, though my own group for The Social Media Hat was suggested and listed.
One of the main reasons for the redesign was to convert the app from HTML5 to native iOS and Android. According to a VentureBeat interview with LinkedIn’s Senior Director for Mobile Engineering, Kiran Prasad, the old app experienced memory issues and was unable to take advantage of some of the native design elements.
Another reason for the redesign was to provide a better platform for ad delivery. LinkedIn began testing sponsored ads earlier this year, and will now be including ads and sponsored content across all platforms.
LinkedIn promises that we will not have to wait almost two years for another update, that future updates and improvements to the mobile experience will come more frequently, and include more options for personalization. With LinkedIn’s recent purchase of the Pulse news reader, it seems likely that integration of custom news feeds and sources will be coming soon as well. There was, however, no indication of when or if these upgrades will be coming to the Windows or Blackberry platforms, so those users will still use the old HTML5 rendering.
One feature that is still woefully lacking is support for maintaining Company Pages. LinkedIn users are still unable to post to their Company Page from their mobile app, make changes, or view statistics. Since these features are now commonplace for both Facebook Pages and Google+ Pages, and LinkedIn wants to get companies more active and involved on their platform, I would hope to see improvements in this area soon.
Download the app update and check it out, and let us know what you think in the comments below!